shortcut to content
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Campus Community: click here for COVID-19 news and updates.


July 18, 2007 Campus Newsletter

Page address:

University leads $5-million WIRED grant

Wired logoMinnesota State Mankato is one of two key higher education partners leading a $5-million, three-year federal grant project to enhance the renewable energy labor force in southwest and west-central Minnesota.

The U.S. Department of Labor grant, intended to encourage workers to stay in rural Minnesota, is one of 13 recently awarded by the Labor Department's Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) program.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will administer the grant, and Minnesota State Mankato and Minnesota West will lead other higher education partners to develop training for new workers in emerging bioscience and renewable energy industries.

The grant's focus is the labor force in a 36-county "Ag Innovation Triangle" from Norman and Rock counties on the west to Freeborn County on the east. The area includes 85 percent of the state's renewable energy projects, including 14 ethanol plants, three bio-diesel plants and 53 wind turbine farms.

The grant "will strengthen the emerging regional academic and economic development consortium, led by renewable energy, manufacturing and value-added agriculture industries," said President Richard Davenport.

The Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence at Minnesota State Mankato will provide resources to augment the effort.

3M donates $850,000 chemistry instrument

NMR spectrometer
The most powerful NMR spectrometer in the Minnesota State system was installed last month in Trafton Science Center, thanks to a gift from 3M. As news reporters (foreground) listen, Brian Groh (right, Chemistry & Geology) explains the benefits of the donated instrument. Looking on are Patti Kramlinger (left, University Development), 3M lab manager Jim Elvecrog (back, second from left), and Alumni Association President and 3M project manager Allan Bohlke (back, second from right).

One of Minnesota's most powerful nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers now resides in Trafton Science Center, thanks to a gift from 3M Pharmaceuticals.

The 500-megahertz NMR spectrometer, valued at $850,000 when it was new seven years ago, was donated to the University's Chemistry & Geology Department in June.

The 7-feet tall, 3-feet diameter, 1,600-pound instrument is one of the state's most advanced NMR spectrometers outside of Minneapolis. The machine will be moved to the new Trafton Science Center addition sometime next year.

The new instrument will allow chemistry faculty members and students to conduct advanced, state-of-the-art studies of compound structures, including drugs, proteins, biofluids and other complex compounds. The spectrometer replaces a much older, 200-megahertz instrument.

President Richard Davenport said "3M's gift of this powerful tool will benefit the state of Minnesota in many ways, most importantly by making possible a new level of research within the state university system, and by providing the opportunity for our students to practice cutting-edge molecular research techniques. I thank 3M for its generosity."

Brian Groh (Chemistry & Geology) said the new instrument will make Minnesota State Mankato more competitive when seeking federal grants for research.

The gift was facilitated by Patti Kramlinger (University Development) and Alumni Association President Allan Bohlke, a 3M project manager. Bohlke learned that 3M was looking for a home for the instrument, and he and 3M lab manager Jim Elvecrog arranged for the donation.

NMR spectroscopy is the preeminent scientific technique for obtaining physical, chemical, electronic and structural information about the dynamics and three-dimensional structure of organic and some inorganic and organometallic molecules.

NMR spectrometer discoveries have led to breakthroughs in the repair of damaged DNA, cure of diseases such as such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, synthesis of new pharmaceuticals and protein interactions.

Merediths give $375,000 for nursing scholarships

Dr. Donald and Mrs. Marjorie Meredith
Dr. Donald and Mrs. Marjorie Meredith

Dr. Donald and Mrs. Marjorie Meredith of Mankato, who in 2005 gave Minnesota State Mankato its largest single scholarship gift, have donated an additional $375,000 to endow nursing scholarships.

The Dr. Donald and Marjorie Meredith Nursing Scholarship Endowment was announced recently by President Richard Davenport.

The gift brings the total amount donated by the Merediths to Minnesota State Mankato to well over $1 million. In 2005 they gave more than $700,000 to fully endow the Meredith Scholars program for promising science and mathematics students.

The renewable, $3,125 Meredith Nursing Scholarships will be awarded to nursing students in the fall and spring semester of each year. Recipients will continue to receive the scholarship until they complete the five-semester nursing program. Three students will receive the scholarships each semester.

High-achieving undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Nursing are eligible for the awards. Recipients must have a 3.5 grade-point average and must demonstrate a well-balanced lifestyle, leadership abilities and commitment to the nursing profession. Recipients will have opportunities to participate in undergraduate research, peer mentoring, tutoring and other School of Nursing activities.

The first recipient will be selected this fall, and will receive the Meredith Nursing Scholarship for spring semester 2008.

"Dr. and Mrs. Meredith continue to set the standard for scholarship giving at Minnesota State Mankato," President Davenport said. "Their Meredith Nursing Scholars endowment will help to correct a critical shortage of baccalaureate trained nurses, and will allow dedicated nursing students to pursue their studies without the distractions of outside jobs."

Dr. Meredith co-founded Mankato's Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, PA, with Dr. Paul Gislason in 1957. He and Dr. Gislason served as Minnesota State Mankato's first athletic team physicians, and helped the university create what is now the nation's oldest, continually accredited athletic training education program in the nation.

Outdoor sculpture seeks to inspire

sculptureThe campus' newest outdoor art work is intended to generate thought about the University's purpose, according to St. Paul sculptor Steven Woodward.

Woodward is the creator of "Pillars," a set of eight massive limestone blocks set in grassy berms at the corner of Stadium Road and Ellis Avenue, just west and south of Otto Recreation Center.

The amphitheater-like space is a "sculptural landform," as Woodward describes it, and the hulking stones aren't the only clues that it's a work of art. Most of the four-ton blocks are etched with the names of academic disciplines: "Philosophy," "Literature," "Physics," "Theatre," "Astronomy," "Geology," "History."

Two of the words - "Philosophy" and "Geology" - are upside-down. And one of the stones is blank.

"My work has always been about ideas," Woodward said. "I wanted the sculpture to inspire ideas about education and the academic nature of the University." He also wanted it to be "a focal point on the campus," where students can sit, study and converse.

"The University teaches students to turn a discipline upside down, inside out - to know the discipline thoroughly and from every angle," Woodward said of the inverted words. The blank block represents all of the disciplines that aren't mentioned - "a book open for investigation."

"It's not an in-your-face sculpture. It makes you think. That's the point of a university. The sculptures are foundation blocks, metaphorically reflecting the mission of the university as books nestled within the terraces, and steps and platforms to actively engage the students in a landscape of learning."

Xcel gives $10,000 for scholarships, endowment

John Frey, David Pearson, David Williams, Patti Kramlinger
John Frey (CSET, second from right) thanks David Pearson of Xcel Energy Corp. (second from left) for the $10,000 Xcel gift for CSET scholarships and an endowment. Looking on are David Williams (University Advancement, left) and Patti Kramlinger (University Development, right).

Xcel Energy Corp. has donated $10,000 for scholarships and an endowment fund in the College of Science, Engineering & Technology.

The gift was presented in June by David Pearson, Xcel's community and local government relations manager. The amount is double the 2006 Xcel gift. Pearson presented the check to David Williams (University Advancement) and John Frey (CSET).

Half of the $10,000 will be distributed as scholarships to science and engineering students, and half will fund a new Xcel scholarship endowment.

$30,552 nursing grant

Department of Health & Human Services logo The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a $30,552 discretionary grant to help the School of Nursing expand baccalaureate enrollment, develop and implement internships and residency programs, and provide education in new technologies.

The grant is one of eight made to Minnesota nursing education programs as part of the department's Nurse Education, Practice and Retention Grants program. The eight Minnesota grants total $478,013.

The grants are expected to help make careers in nursing more accessible for those interested in the field.

In addition to the $30,552 to Minnesota State Mankato, other Minnesota institutions receiving grants are: Bemidji State University, University of Minnesota, Winona State University, College of St. Scholastica, Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis School of Anesthesia, St. Mary's University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics.

John Frey named to energy board

John Frey
John Frey

John Frey (CSET) has been appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to the NextGen Energy Board.

The new board was proposed by Gov. Pawlenty as part of his Next Generation Energy Initiative. The board will provide recommendations to the Legislature and the governor about how the state can most efficiently achieve energy independence through agriculture and natural resource sustainability.

One of the board's primary duties is to examine the future of bio-fuels, such as synthetic gases, biobutanol, hydrogen, methanol, biodiesel, and ethanol within Minnesota, and to develop grant programs to assist renewable energy facilities throughout the state.

The board consists of 19 members, including seven appointed by the governor.

John has more than 36 years of teaching experience at Minnesota State Mankato, including having served as chair of the biology department for five years. He was appointed as a representative of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

After-tax TSA contributions

IRS logo

Minnesota State employees have the opportunity to make Roth IRA after-tax contributions to their Minnesota State Tax-Sheltered Annuity Plans effective with the July 11 payroll period.

Roth after-tax contributions allow you to:

  • Designate elective deferrals as after-tax Roth contributions to your plan;
  • Receive tax-deferred growth on any earnings;
  • Potentially reduce the taxability of Social Security income benefits;
  • Enjoy tax-free distributions five years after Roth contributions were first made to plan, if you are 59 1/2 or older, or if distribution is due to disability or death;
  • Transfer your retirement assets income tax-free to your beneficiaries.

Roth after-tax contributions are included in maximum contribution limits, plus any catch-up limits, if applicable.

The Roth 403(b) option offers the same benefits, rights and features as the current retirement plan, including investment choices. Contributions and accumulations are tracked separately to ensure that they are not commingled with pretax or employer contributions.

Adding Roth contributions to your Tax-Sheltered Annuity plan is easy, and can be done on the Employee Self Service website.

To learn more about the Roth option, call the dedicated Minnesota State Telephone Counseling Center at 800-682-8969, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit the TIAA-CREF website.

Contribution rates increase

logoContribution rates are increasing this summer for two of the retirement savings plans. Both the employee and employer contributions are increasing for the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) General Employees Retirement Plan. The employer contribution to Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) is also increasing.

The employee and employer contributions to the Minnesota State Retirement System General Employees Retirement Plan are increasing from 4 percent to 4.25 percent this summer. Employees will see larger MSRS-GERP payroll deductions beginning with the August 3, 2007, paycheck (pay period ending July 24).

Most classified state employees are required to contribute to the MSRS General Employees Retirement Plan.

Future MSRS contribution rate increases are scheduled as follows:

  • July, 2008 - 4.50 percent;
  • July, 2009 - 4.75 percent;
  • July, 2010 - 5.00 percent.

The employer contribution rate for Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) members is increasing from 5 percent to 5.5 percent beginning with the July 6, 2007, paycheck (pay period ending June 26). Only the employer contribution rate is increasing this summer. The employee contribution rate increased to 5.5 percent in July, 2006, and is not scheduled for another increase at this time.

All of these contribution rate changes were passed by the legislature in 2006 and announced in the spring and summer of 2006. No contribution rate changes are scheduled at this time for the Individual Retirement Account Plan (IRAP), Supplemental Retirement Plan (SRP) or MSRS Unclassified Retirement Plan.

July 19-22: 'Bye Bye Birdie'

Highland logoHighland Summer Theatre will conclude its 41st annual season with "Bye Bye Birdie," Thursday through Sunday, July 19-22, with performances at 7:30 p.m. in Ted Paul Theatre, Performing Arts Center.

The performance is sponsored by Eide Bailly, the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, PA, and the Pamela & Wynn Kearney Foundation.

"Bye Bye Birdie" tells the story of a rock and roll singer who is about to be inducted into the army. The singer is Conrad Birdie, an Elvis Presley type with pompadour and thick sideburns. Albert Peterson is his pleasant agent, and Albert's faithful secretary Rose Alvarez keeps him and Birdie moving forward and concocts one final national publicity blitz before Conrad's induction.

The role of Conrad Birdie is played by Jared Oxborough, who appeared as "Goat" in this summer's "The Robber Bridegroom" and as "Doody" in last summer's closer, "Grease." Rose Alvarez is played by Claire Lloyd and Albert Peterson by Tobias Miller - two roles made famous by Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh in the 1963 movie version.

In the Highland Summer Theatre satire, directed by Paul Finocchiaro, the set appears cartoon-like and two-dimensional, reflected in the scenic design by MFA graduate student Allen Wright Shannon.

Minnesota State Mankato last presented "Bye Bye Birdie" in summer 1995.

July 20: Power outage

electricity imageElectrical power for the entire campus will be off between 3 and 6 a.m. Friday, July 20, as part of the final phase of the campus-wide electrical infrastructure improvement.

For most of the campus, the outage will last 15 to 30 minutes, but electrical power for Memorial Library will be off for approximately 3 hours. The outage will affect the entire campus except for the Crawford/McElroy complex and Wiecking Center.

A second outage has been scheduled for only Memorial Library on Wednesday, July 25, lasting approximately six hours, beginning at 7:15 p.m.

Faculty, staff and students should ensure that all sensitive electronic equipment is turned off during the outage to avoid possible damage.

Those who have questions may contact Chris Hoffmann at 389-5446.

July 28: Vikings Training Camp

Vikings logoAlltel Wireless is the new title sponsor of Vikings Training Camp starting Saturday, July 28.

Alltel takes over as major sponsor from Midwest Wireless, which Alltel acquired last year.

The annual training camp runs from July 28 to Aug. 17. The camp is closed to fans Aug. 13-15 for the team's first preseason game.

Rookies and selected veterans report to camp on July 27. The rest of the team reports Monday, July 30, and the team's first full practice is Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Special training camp events include an evening practice with the Kansas City Chiefs (Aug. 4), Fan Club Day (Aug. 6), a youth football clinic (Aug. 10) and a cheerleader clinic and calendar signing (Aug. 12). A complete training camp calendar, including autograph times, is at the Vikings website.

You can download a map of [PDF] Vikings Village and other event locations (296 KiB). You can also download a [PDF] fan parking map (2 MiB).

The team's first preseason game is Aug. 14 at the Metrodome against Randy Moss and the Oakland Raiders and the team opens the regular season on Sept. 11 at the Washington Redskins.

Aug. 2: Women's Center retreat

Students are invited to an interactive Women's Center mini-retreat Thursday, Aug. 2, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The retreat is intended to help the Women's Center start an exciting year of learning and growth. Lunch and dinner will be provided, and there is no cost.

To sign up or for more information, email Deirdre Rosenfeld at

Sept. 10: Bob Erickson bike tour

The 2006 Bob Erickson bike tour group
The 2006 Bob Erickson bike tour group (Singing Hills Trail)

Trustee Emeritus Bob Erickson will pedal his sixth bike tour of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities from Monday, Aug. 20, until Thursday, Sept. 20, riding to all 53 of the system's campuses.

He will be at Minnesota State Mankato Monday, Sept. 10, arriving at approximately 2 p.m. after leaving from South Central College, Faribault, and stopping at South Central College, North Mankato.

Again this year Trustee Erickson is challenging faculty and staff to ride with him. Last summer more than a dozen staff members from Minnesota State Mankato and South Central rode with him from Faribault on the Sakatah-Singing Hills Trail.

Faculty featured in new book

Stardust and FateCurrent and former Minnesota State Mankato writers and illustrators are among nearly four dozen contributors featured in Stardust and Fate: The Blueroad Reader, a new book of travel stories, poetry and images.

The Mankato Barnes & Noble at River Hills Mall will host a reading/signing for the book on Tuesday, July 24, from 7-9 p.m.

The book is a collaboration by 38 writers and eight illustrators that explores common journeys, destinations and experiences that bring people closer together. The book, featuring literary travel fiction, journalism, poetry and art, will be released this month by Blueroad Press of Janesville, Minn.

Stardust and Fate is the conception of John Gaterud (Mass Communications), inspired by his interest in travel and road stories.

The collection includes short fiction, poetry, essays, memoir and other creative non-fiction.

Artists with Minnesota State Mankato connections who contributed to the book include Suzanne Bunkers, Candace Black, Donna Casella, Terry Davis, Roger Sheffer, Nick Healy, Nate LeBoutillier and Richard Robbins (English); Rachael Hanel and Joe Tougas (Mass Communications); Ann Rosenquist-Fee (Publications); Ed Micus and Ron Gower (emeriti); and Brad Widness (Art).

Other authors who have contributed new stories and verse include Freya Manfred, Bill Holm, Robert Bly, Nancy Paddock, Carol Barrett, Graeme McRanor, Richard Coffey and Joe Paddock.

Stardust and Fate is the first in a planned series of semiannual Blueroad Readers.

Blueroad Press is a small publishing company owned and managed by John and his daughter, Abbey. Production assistance for The Blueroad Reader was provided by Printing Services, including director Doug Fenske and staff Wendy Johnston and Kris Higginbotham. The book is being printed at Sentinel Printing, St. Cloud.

Athletic marketing award

maverick logoMinnesota State Mankato Athletics is one of the 2006-07 National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators award recipients.

"McPack the Place," a collaborative marketing effort by Brian Gabel (Athletic Marketing and Promotions) with McDonald's, earned a Silver Medal for single-day men's basketball promotion.

Minnesota State Mankato and McDonald's promoted "McPack the Place in an effort to sell out Taylor Center for the South Dakota basketball game. The promotion resulted in the second-highest attendance ever at Maverick basketball game in Taylor Center (4,897 fans).

The awards were presented at NACMA's 16th Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla., in June.

Hail and Farewell

Scott Anderson has been named Maverick Games Room manager in Centennial Student Union. He earned a BS in business management and an MBA from Minnesota State Mankato, and served an internship in the Office of the Chancellor, where he helped create a database for tracking system-wide real estate. Scott will continue to coach the men's intercollegiate bowling team as part of his new assignment.

Other new hires include: John Gleason (Electrical), Mark Johnson (Information and Technology Services), Steven Ardolf (Physical Plant), and Corie Walters and Tracy Frederick (Children's House).

Separations include Monroe Purrier (Building Services), LeeAnn Christian (Dental Hygiene), Theresa Evers (COB), Kathryn Roeder (Computer Store), Robert Widner (Psychology), Darrol Bussler (Educational Studies), Melanie Frappier (Philosophy), Nevin Hunter (Political Science & Law Enforcement), Kent Kalm (University Extended Education), Bruce Pietz (Human Performance), Patricia Peterson (Modern Languages), Crystal Abernathey (Admissions), Marsha Danielson (University Development), Christine Karst (ETS), Penh Lo (Multicultural Affairs), Gael Mericle (CAS), Ann Marie Swartz (Student Leadership Development), David Grams (Biological Sciences), Rebecca Bell (PALS), Harold Trauger (President's Office).

Faculty/staff achievements

Several Speech Communication students, faculty and emeriti will present at and take part in the 2007 National Communication Association convention Nov. 15-18 in Chicago. They include emeriti Larry Schnoor; faculty Christa M. Brown, Daniel Cronn-Mills, Kristen Eis Cvancara, James P. Dimock, Rachel M. Anderson Droogsma, David E. Engen, Lynn C. Kuechle, Warren Sandmann, Kristen P. Treinen, and Leah E. White; and graduate students Michelle Dawn Dodge, Jacob D. Eckstein, Sara E. Gronstal, Katie Ischkin, Emily Kofoed, Patrick Loebs, Joshua Randall.

Kellian Clink (Library Services) has agreed to serve as Honors Program advisor/coordinator for 2007-2008, replacing Rajiv Kapadia, who served for the last two years.

Stewart Ross (Excellence in Teaching and Learning) led several course design workshops in June. He presented a two-day workshop at SUNY-Brockport, a one-day workshop at Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Mass., and a two-day workshop at Kansas City Community College. He also presented a paper with Pat Tebbe (CSET) as part of an NSF grant studying the engagement of thermodynamics students in Honolulu, Hawaii, as part of the American Society of Engineering Education Conference.

Jason Westman will serve as interim director of the Center for Academic Success for 2007-2008, replacing Gael Mericle. Jason has been assistant director in the Center. A national search for a new director will begin this fall.

Student achievements

Gaynor Gordon, a student staff member in Centennial Student Union, has received a regional grant to attend the Association of College Unions International student leadership conference later this month in Bloomington, Ind.

Jason Rhoten is the only repeat selection to the 10-member 2006-2007 North Central Conference Men's All-Academic At-Large team. Jason was a member of the 2004-05 elite squad. Two other Maverick athletes are on the squad: John Julian (tennis) and Marty Wahle (swimming). The select group has a combined grade point average of 3.59, and is derived from the conference's golf, tennis, wrestling and swimming & diving teams.


Do you have faculty, staff, student or departmental news for the biweekly campus newsletter? Send news items to newsletter editor Mike Cooper at Mike Cooper. The newsletter is published every other Wednesday during the academic year and monthly during the summer. The next newsletter will be published Aug. 29. The deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday (Aug. 24).